Did you know? The liver is the largest internal organ and largest gland in the human body and weighs about 3 pounds in the average healthy adult!
On my daily journey to be as healthy as I can and to live a wholesome, organic lifestyle, I have become very aware of how important proper liver function is and of what I can do to be my liver’s best friend! I have learned that my good health is directly linked to how well I can look after and support my liver!
The liver is one of the hardest working (and also the largest) organs in the body and is responsible for many functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity and the storage of nutrients.
This miraculous organ works tirelessly to detoxify our blood (destroying old red blood cells), produce the bile needed to digest fat, break down hormones and store essential vitamins, minerals and iron. It also secretes chemicals that are needed by other parts of our bodies, breaks down alcohol and medications that we consume and makes sure that we can digest our food properly – especially fats!
In short, because it performs so many vital functions and plays such an important role in so many of our bodily functions, we need to look after it and keep it healthy!
How do we do that? By now you’ve guessed it – an unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle can overwork and overload the liver, leaving it unable to process toxins and fats the way it is designed to do. The result? A sluggish liver function, poor health and even liver disease!
This can raise the risk of obesity, heart disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, allergies and many other health problems.
Some of the things that impair our liver function are excessive alcohol consumption (a very common cause); eating bad fats; continual exposure to harmful chemicals, materials and substances; filling our tummies past 80% which strains the liver and slows down its ability to function; drug abuse (including prescription drugs) which harm the liver’s ability to filter; and just living a bad lifestyle that overworks our liver and wrecks our bodies!
Some of the symptoms of a troubled or even diseased liver are tiredness, fatigue and feeling generally weak; digestion problems; bloating and gas; a continual bitter taste in the mouth; having trouble concentrating; nausea; constipation; loss of appetite; unexplained weight loss or gain; excessive sweating; jaundice (yellowing of the skin); a yellow coating on the tongue; eye problems; headaches and hormonal imbalances.
These can be the result of a sick or overloaded liver that is struggling to process the toxins in one’s body. It’s struggling because it is being poorly treated! But, there are many natural remedies that we can build into our lifestyles to avoid this happening.
What can you and I do to ensure healthy liver function? A lot!
Liver-friendly foods to include in your diet – provided they are organically grown
Many foods can help cleanse, rejuvenate and detoxify the liver and there are many ways to include these in your daily eating habits. Here are a few to try:
- It’s very important to include healthy fats like olives, avocados, salmon and walnuts in your diet.
- Eat plenty of green, leafy veggies which support the liver by stimulating the flow of bile.
- Beetroot, cauliflower and pumpkin are also liver-friendly and easy to include in salads or cooked meals.
- Add organic apples and papaya fruit to your diet – the pectin in apples removes toxins from the digestive tract and papaya is a great digestive aid which in turn boosts your liver function.
- From time to time drink lemon water, veggie broths, juiced green veggies or a spinach and carrot juice (50/50).
My personal favourite? I try to make good decisions before I eat any meal. Mostly this is to eat organically, include many leafy greens, use only healthy oils and make sure my meal is tasty so that I enjoy each bite. Food preparation is a joy to me and a big part of my organic lifestyle. I love trying to feel healthy and this helps me to make decisions that are good for my liver and wellbeing.
Healthy, organic living is so dependent on the lifestyle decisions that we take! Here are ways that you can review your lifestyle to check that it is extremely kind to your liver function. There are things to give up and things to add in!
Give up smoking, excessive alcohol use and eating bad fast foods NOW – this goes without saying with all the information that is now available to us. These habits are major liver stressors and causes of liver disease. Give them up today!
Stop overworking the liver – change how and what you eat. Think liver friendly. Overeating strains the liver and puts it into overdrive trying to get all its functions done. You’ll feel grim, sluggish and down. Try to eat only until you are about 80% full – this gives the liver a chance to get through it’s “to do list” without being overburdened.
Give up anger by trying hard to deal with its cause. Anger debilitates and negatively affects your health. A side effect is strain on the liver.
Add a habit of resting your digestive tract from time to time by eating small, light vegetarian and alkaline meals because these need little energy to be digested, giving the liver a much needed break.
Add getting enough sleep into your lifestyle review. It is said that the hours between 1 and 4 a.m. is when the liver is most actively cleaning the body while you are quietly sleeping.
Add getting regular, gentle, health building exercise into your ideal lifestyle. The health and wellbeing benefits of exercise are simply amazing. Walking, yoga, stretching or any exercise that suits your lifestyle.
My personal favourite? A combo of these and being very aware of striving for a healthy, organic lifestyle. I exercise regularly (this includes boxing…); try to eat carefully and only organically by being aware of what I am putting into my body; regularly give my liver and digestion a break by eating a small, light, vegetarian meal and try to live with a positive and loving attitude towards all. Remember, this is a daily journey!
Herbs and supplements
There are so many natural remedies that we can use to support optimal liver function. Here are a few to try:
The big one here is called Milk Thistle that is widely known to be effective for a variety of liver problems and for general liver support. When buying this supplement, please make sure that it is organically grown and free of any nasty additives! Its benefits are immense.
Both lemon and apple cider vinegar restore alkalinity to the system and this helps to detoxify the liver. One tablespoon of either of these with a teaspoon of honey, taken before meals, is a super liver support.
Licorice is an excellent remedy for non-alcoholic fatty liver conditions – pour boiling water on licorice root powder (check it is organically grown), keep for a few minutes then strain and drink.
Turmeric spice has a myriad health benefits - including being an antiseptic and antioxidant – and is recommended for general health and liver support. Include turmeric in your cooking, health drinks, herbal teas and smoothies.
Drink organic Green tea daily – amongst other things, it contains catechins which are known to support liver function.
My personal favourite? In addition to my Milk Thistle supplement, I just love to have a daily drink of either freshly squeezed lemon juice (organic please) or apple cider vinegar to which I add a quarter teaspoon turmeric (freshly grated root or powder form), a teaspoon of honey (check the source and make sure it’s not irradiated), and a slice of fresh ginger (fantastic for immunity). Its yum and loving to my liver and general health!
A healthy liver is so important for good health. Healing our body is impossible without taking loving, tender and gentle care of this miraculous vital organ!
(PS: In cases of chronic impaired liver function, ongoing symptoms of illness or if you are taking any medication, always consult your medical professional before you self-medicate.)